Have you ever looked at the origin of the word “politics?” Its etymological roots come from words meaning “civil” and “citizens.” Citizens, as in, the people who make up the governed population.
Today, where do those people voice their concerns, delights, issues, and ideas? Social media.
Let’s look for a moment at the dramatic 2016 presidential election. Over the course of the campaign, Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton racked up tens of millions followers on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. By some estimates, the free publicity generated for Donald Trump on social media would have cost him $380 million in ad buys. Using social media to spread their campaign message is part of the reason that the Trump campaign was able to win despite spending only about a third of what the Clinton campaign spent, according to Bloomberg Politics. Especially when a clear majority of American adults report that they get news from social media.
Clearly social media is very important in politics, but having a strong social media presence is only half the story. By listening to social media data, politicians and special interest groups can gain information to strengthen their efforts. Social media monitoring allows politicians and special interest groups to turn the posts, likes, comments, and shares of social media into clear insights about what people care about, which in turn makes it easier to convince them.
How D.C. Uses Social Media: Lobbyists, Campaigns, and Public Perception
Political campaigns and special interest groups need to shape public opinion, whether that’s to win an election or to push through legislation. Given how much debate and discussion takes place online today, social media is unavoidable. But it’s not enough to simply be active on social media. The ultimate goal is to understand how the public is engaging with your cause – or your opponent’s.
Speak on the Most Important Issues
In Political Campaigns
Emotion is a powerful factor in decision-making, and if voters react positively to speeches, advertisements, and other political initiatives, they’re more likely to remember them. The key to catching the ear of voters is to address the topics and issues of the day that people care about the most.
Political campaigns can use social media monitoring to learn more about their constituents, including what stories and current events they are passionate about. Political teams can learn what issues are most and least important to constituents, in real time. Finally, social media data can be used to identify community leaders and prominent figures who can be recruited to the team, leveraging their own relationships and trust in support of the campaign’s efforts.
In Special Interest Groups
Special interest groups can use information gained from social media monitoring to help gauge and shape public perception to support their cause. When pushing for some legislation or policy change, it’s important to highlight the public support that is on your side. And when trying to build that support, it’s important to empower the positive voices that are on your side, as well as counter the opposition’s talking points.
What are people saying about your issue? What are their primary arguments for your side and for the opposition? As current events unfold and are spun and politicized, what are the talking points that you need to worry about the most? Being able to answer these questions gives you a huge strategic advantage.
The key to successfully accomplishing these listening activities is being able to understand the large volumes of social media conversations and draw valuable insights from it. If you are using a tool that can give you easily consumable summaries of social conversations, you can quickly understand what’s being said and start strategizing your response.
Leverage Social Data to Choose Strategic Action
In Political Campaigns
Campaigns need to spend their capital and human resources wisely. It’s simply not possible or prudent to address every concern and react to every attack. Campaign advisors and managers are the brains of the operation that game plan for every scenario, and make the critical decisions about when to stay on message and when to defend. In a close campaign, information that can help inform these decisions can be the difference between winning and losing.
By listening to social media, political campaigns can see how voters are reacting to the latest strike from the opponent. In the 2014 Maryland gubernatorial race, the Hogan for Maryland campaign did exactly that. Using social monitoring, the Hogan campaign team found that opponent’s attacks were not resonating with anyone other than the opponent’s core supporters. Knowing this gave them the confidence to ignore the attacks, continue focusing on their core message, and win the Governor’s seat.
In Special Interest Groups
Special interest groups also need to pick their battles. Capitalizing on the most publicly visible (i.e. effective) opportunities to raise awareness for their platform is vital, as is countering the most damaging news stories. Knowing which current events and controversies are bolstering support or inflaming resistance of the group’s agenda can be used to their advantage.
Candidates for office must continually rally their supporters and counter damaging attacks. Special interest groups must build support for their platform and undermine resistance. In either function, making good decisions requires staying in touch with the most important sentiments of the day.
To learn more about how social media monitoring tools can be used for political efforts, click here. Are you trying to get some traction on your current political effort? Then there’s no time to waste – click here to request a demo of OssaLabs social media monitoring tools now.
Tim Chabuk February 28, 2017